Written by Jackson Long
I’d say a majority of people I know (as well as the general population especially) are still existing under the outdated paradigm that being completely plant-based, i.e. eating nothing but plants, is downright impossible. This kind of lifestyle will make you weak, deficient in x or y nutrient, it’s expensive, complicated, elitist. The only way to be healthy is eat other animals right? I mean, what about protein though?
Whatever the excuse may be, I think it’s important to show just how awesome it is to live this way, and that you won’t end up a frail, weak, and whiny hippie.
Here are five reasons why it’s cool to eat nothing but plants.
1) You’re making a significant impact on the welfare of animals.
This is probably the most important reason to not eat animals: you’re not contributing to the suffering and death of animals. About 60 billion animals are enslaved and slaughtered every year. It’s simply not right, and if you wouldn’t slit the throat of a pig, why pay someone else to do it?
Due to brilliant marketing campaigns and even anti-investigation laws (Ag-gag) enacted by the meat and dairy industries, people don’t truly know what goes on behind the scenes of their pretty packaged cellophane piece of meat from the store. If you’re truly fine with what happens in the documentary Earthlings, then knock yourself out. But it’s time we wake up and act more in line with our morals, and truly extend compassion to the other inhabitants of our planet, not just our cats and dogs.
2) It’s by far the best and easiest thing you can do to decrease your footprint on the environment.
If you care about the environment, or call yourself an environmentalist, it’s incredibly contradictory to eat meat, period. Forget about your hybrid cars, animal agriculture contributes 51% of greenhouse gas emissions, 55% of the USA’s water usage, 91% of Amazon Rainforest destruction, and is the leading cause of species extinction.
One 1/4 lb hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce, the same as showering for 2 months straight. You can produce half the CO2 and 1/18th less land as a meat eater by switching to plants¹. This is a no brainer. Check out the incredibly important documentary Cowspiracy for the true scope of animal agriculture’s impact on the environment.
3) It’s also the best and easiest thing to do for your health!
True, long term health starts with what we put in our bodies every day. A plant based diet can prevent and reverse heart disease (our number 1 killer) and type II diabetes as well as drastically reduce your risk of developing cancer, obesity, and many other lifestyle related ailments². Today’s standard medical procedure for dealing with disease and health is a system of addressing symptoms, casually and often carelessly prescribing drugs, and not prevention or treatment of the underlying cause.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat bananas and potatoes than have to be on a strict regime of pills for the second half of my life to reduce my risk of heart attack, not to mention all those crazy side effects. The world’s longest living cultures, AKA “The Blue Zones” all have in common a primarily plant-based diet³. Check out NutritionFacts.org for more nutrition info, and the awesome documentary Forks Over Knives on Netflix.
4) It rules if you’re an athlete.
Inflammation. Long recovery. Fatigue. Excess body weight. Soreness. Weak immune system. Sound familiar? Plants are naturally rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, are alkaline-forming, and can give you the energy and nutrients required as an athlete. Don’t believe me? Ask Rich Roll, an ultra endurance athlete who completed 5 Ironman distance triathlons in under a week on 5 Hawaiian islands.
Or Kendrick Farris, Team USA’s only male powerlifter at this year’s Rio Olympics, who exists on a completely vegan diet. What about world record holding strongman Patrik Baboumian, or Scott Jurek, one of the world’s most accomplished ultrarunners? These guys and many others eat nothin’ but plants and still crush it. I know I feel pretty damn good eating this way, and have no problem smashing it up the unforgiving CO mountains on my bike or busting out 5 hour rides. If you want your body to perform like a Ferrari, you gotta give it high-octane fuel.
5) It’s f*****g delicious.
Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet not only takes care of all the essential nutrients and significantly improves health, it just tastes incredible if you eat real food. I’m amazed every day at how much variety exists in the plant kingdom. I get so much more amped to come home after a bike ride and demolish 2L of fruit and vegetable smoothie or put away a mixing bowl sized curry stew for dinner than I ever did eating stuff on a “normal” diet.
There are only a few common options at the store when it comes to animals: pigs, chickens and their eggs, cows and their milk and turkeys. It’s easy to stereotype vegans that eat nothing but kale and tofu, but eating eggs for breakfast and chicken breast for dinner isn’t exactly exciting. It’s insane how much good food there is that doesn’t require a corpse to make it taste good. Smoothies, rice and beans, burgers, burritos, curries, ice cream, stir fry, the list goes on. Look at the produce section compared to the meat section. I start salivating at the sight of raw nectarines, watermelon, and mangoes. Not so much the raw chunks of cow (but maybe I’m weird).
The Take Away
I urge you to try incorporating more plant based whole food meals into your life. It’s time we start thinking about our food choices more seriously and stop listening to what the media or nutritionally uneducated doctors tell us. Think about nutrition and health more “wholistically”, a big picture lifestyle and not just some fad diet. There are more important issues (and fellow animals) than carbs and protein that are directly affected by what we put on our plate 3 times a day. Change is hard, but it is so worth it to get over the learning curve and go all into something you believe in. Do your research, be open minded, and truly think critically when it comes to your health, well being, and the planet as a whole.